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Webinar Archives

SELF-ADVOCACY: Making It Happen in College and Beyond

Presented by Dr. Henry B. Reiff
Conducted September 17, 2008

ABOUT THE WEBINAR: Once you get out of high school, it's often tempting to try to leave your disability behind. But a disability in adulthood brings a special set of challenges in postsecondary education, work and home, relationships, and especially feelings about yourself. Fortunately, adults with disabilities can significantly increase the likelihood of career success and personal satisfaction. During this Webinar, Henry B. Reiff, author of Self-Advocacy for Students with Learning Disabilities: Making It Happen in College and Beyond, discusses how a combination of effective self-advocacy and specific life skills can make a huge difference for you. With a focus on what adults with disabilities can do rather than what they cannot do, Dr. Reiff shares inspiring stories from adults with disabilities and practical tips on how to be successful.

WEBINAR ARCHIVE. The archive of the Webinar conducted September 17, 2008 is available here. The archive is 1 hr., 21 minutes in length. You can start, stop, pause, fast forward or rewind the recording using the controls on the ReadyTalk player. Note: Playing the archive requires FLASH to be installed on your computer.

Henry Reiff, Ph.D.ABOUT THE PRESENTER: Henry B. Reiff, Ph.D., is the co-author of a number of books about adults with learning disabilities, including Exceeding Expectations: Successful Adults with Learning Disabilities, which was named a top LD resource by the American Library Association. He has published more than forty articles and has given hundreds of presentations around the country. Reiff is a 30 year educator, Dean of Student Academic Life at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD, and a professor of special education. He was the Maryland nominee for LDA Educator of the year in 2000.

In the preceding months, Dr. Reiff has shared his thoughts on self-advocacy at the Guidance Expo in White Plains, NY (October, 2007), the GILD in Baltimore, MD (November,2007), Future Quest in Fairfax, VA (December, 2007), and the LDA of Montgomery County in Rockville, MD (January, 2008).

Dr. Reiff's new book, Self-Advocacy for Students with Learning Disabilities: Making It Happen in College and Beyond, is available for purchase from the publisher, and Dr. Reiff can be contacted via email at

Postsecondary Educational Opportunities for
Students with Intellectual Disabilities

Presented by Stephanie Smith Lee and Heidi Graff
Conducted October 29, 2008

ABOUT THE WEBINAR: Opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities (ID) to participate in higher education are rapidly expanding. This special 2-part Webinar event takes a look at new provisions in federal law designed to support these opportunities as well as a program at a Virginia university already in operation for several years. The event features the following:

PART I: Overview of important new provisions in the recently enacted Higher Education Opportunity Act, the latest update of the nation’s federal law pertaining to postsecondary education, pertaining to students with ID, presented by Stephanie Smith Lee, Senior Policy Advisor for the National Down Syndrome Society’s Policy Center.

PART II: Overview of Virginia’s only university-based program for students with ID, George Mason University’s Learning into Future Environments (LIFE) program, presented by Dr. Heidi Graff, director of the LIFE program.

WEBINAR ARCHIVE. The archive of the Webinar conducted October 29, 2008 is available here. The archive is 1 hr., 17 minutes in length. You can start, stop, pause, fast forward or rewind the recording using the controls on the ReadyTalk player. Note: Playing the archive requires FLASH to be installed on your computer.

WEBINAR HANDOUT. The Handout for the Webinar presentation is available here. (PDF, 18 pgs.)

Stephanie Smith LeeABOUT THE PRESENTERS: Stephanie Smith Lee has over thirty-five years of experience in public policy, including serving in senior Congressional staff positions, as a foundation administrator, and as a nationally recognized disability parent leader. Since her daughter, Laura, was born with Down syndrome in 1982, she has organized and led many successful bipartisan, collaborative efforts to improve special education and disability policy in Virginia and at the national level.

As the Director of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in the US Department of Education, from 2002 through March 2005, Ms. Lee directed the policy development, program planning, monitoring, evaluation, research and implementation of the Federal special education law. In that capacity, she focused the work of OSEP on improved transition and postsecondary opportunities for all students with disabilities, and on new opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities, among other initiatives.

Currently Ms. Lee is the Senior Policy Advisor for the National Down Syndrome Society’s Policy Center. She provides policy analysis and advice on a wide range of education and disability issues. For the past three years, she has provided “hands on” technical assistance to parents, educators, and institutions of higher education (IHEs) on how to develop and implement high quality inclusive postsecondary programs and services for students with intellectual disabilities. Through frequent speeches at national and state conferences she has provided information on successful approaches to developing these innovative opportunities. As Project Leader of the NDSS partnership project with the College Transition Connection (CTC) and the Center for Disability Resources, the UCEDD in South Carolina, she has worked with these partners to organize a successful effort to develop and fund postsecondary projects in that state. Currently, three universities have been funded to develop model programs. As part of this systems change effort, state agencies have agreed to provide funding for the project and some funding for individual students.

Recently, at the request of Republican and Democratic staff in the U.S. House and Senate, Ms. Lee and Madeleine Will, NDSS Policy Center Director, coordinated a group of experts who provided technical expertise regarding provisions that have been included in the Higher Education Act reauthorization related to students with intellectual disabilities.

Dr. Heidi Graff obtained her doctoral degree in Education from George Mason University in May of 2007 with a major in Special Education and a minor in Instructional Technology. During her doctoral studies at George Mason University, she supported the Master’s degree Immersion Team of instructional designers through the development of the KIHd System by working as a facilitator in Phase 1. In 2006-2008 she served as a project coordinator for the KIHd System, Phase II, U.S. Department of Education Steppingstones of Technology Grant (CFDA 84.327A, Steppingstones of Technology, Innovations for Students with Disabilities/H327A060031). KIHd System grant was implemented in a metropolitan school servicing students on the autism Spectrum. Currently, she is a Co-PI on the U.S. Department of Education Steppingstones of Technology grant (CFDA 84.327A, Steppingstones of Technology, Innovations for Students with Disabilities/H327A080013) aimed to develop the software tool to create adapted and interactive video clips.

Since June 2007, Dr. Graff is the director of the Mason Learning into Future Environments (LIFE) program designed to provide students with intellectual and developmental disabilities with transition/postsecondary educational experiences in a supportive university environment. Under her tutelage the Mason Life program has grown to full capacity with 24 students who are from surrounding areas such as Maryland, District of Columbia, and Loudoun as well as Prince William counties. Dr. Graff initiated a four-year academic curriculum, the Mason LIFE internship program to deepen community ties with local employers, and has expanded the residential dorm program to include weekends. With a Lab school model, GMU graduate students in special education teach the Mason LIFE students while gaining practical experience and meeting their internship or licensure requirements. Dr. Graff now recruits GMU students from other disciplines to volunteer in the program. She places a heavy emphasis on conducting research to promote the continued investigation of learning pedagogy for transition students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Additionally, the Mason LIFE students are active in Special Olympics and Best Buddies with Dr. Graff acting as Faculty Advisor.

Dr. Graff has extensive experience in single-subject research methodology including teaching classes on the master’s and doctoral levels. Dr. Graff is one of the leading instructors in the Autism Certificate program at GMU and teaches the Characteristics of Autism class. Prior to her work at GMU, for almost ten years, Dr. Graff administered and co-partnered a private practice to assist families and children with disabilities. Besides being a parent of a teen with autism, she has professional experience in advocating for students with disabilities. Her goals include expanding the research line in the area of secondary and postsecondary education for student with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as setting national standards for transition programs.